How Not to Break the Internet

June 21, 2016
By Monta Monaco Hernon - The Internet has exploded since its creation into a huge commercial arena where people consume not simply ...

The Internet has exploded since its creation into a huge commercial arena where people consume not simply packets of information, but services and applications. The use case is so different than it was at the inception of the Internet that the fundamental building block, the router, hasn't been able to change quickly enough, said Andy Ory, co-founder and CEO of 128 Technology.

"Routers are stateless packet devices with a whole bunch of augmented technologies. Moving from a low-volume use case to high volume required middle boxes," Ory said. "Everything has become complex."

This complexity has made security increasingly difficult and given corporate IT departments a "devil of a problem" in providing services in a timely manner. "The Internet is at a breaking point. There is a crushing amount of complexity," Ory said.

128 Technology, which only recently came out of stealth mode, is not the only startup to acknowledge or address this complexity, but, in Ory's opinion, many of the other proposals being made are "much of the same."

"Take things like software defined networking. They say they want to abstract control from network elements ... but they are using more complexity to mask complexity," Ory said.

For 128, the key is that fundamental building block - the router. There seemed to be two changes that could be made to the router's DNA that could help eliminate all of the middle boxes and simplify delivery.

"We made (routers) session aware and deterministic," Ory said. "We are using what is good with Internet routers to fix what is bad."

Currently, it is difficult and expensive for a business to connect two locations even if they are right across the street from one another because of separate firewalls. The packets cannot go easily from a computer at one location to one at the location across the street. Ory's former company, Acme Packet, was faced with spending $40,000 to dig a trench and have a direct physical connection or pay thousands a month on an engineered pipe, he said.

128's routers offer a solution for routing from one private network to another by building a signaling system on top of IP networking or the Internet. Business owners can determine which path - private network pipe to the data center or the Internet - they want packets to go down. The routers convert packets to a public address for routing between buildings and then convert back to the private address.

"(Currently) every one of our customers are living with the pain of augmenting basic sessionless routing with complexity to deliver a workable and consumable service to their internal and external customers. We rethink routing, make the path simpler, and remove most of the augmented technology," Ory said.

Security is another use case. 128's routing policies allow source destination connectivity, for example. This means that the network will only allow traffic emanating from certain locations. "There is no way for a man in the middle attack," Ory said. "(You can create) a federated community of places where you want traffic to come from."

128's routers parachute into an existing routing network and work with the infrastructure, providing session intelligence across the plan. Customers will be charged according to a usage model. "If you don't route, you don't pay. We figure out what the total bandwidth is in aggregate at any one time across the network. This is what you pay for," Ory said.

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